Regional Web banner January
Jim Nowlan

Jim Nowlan

Edgar Fellows need to lead

By Jim Nowlan

Former Gov. Jim Edgar has created a program that might be the last great hope for struggling Illinois, yet his Edgar Fellows Program has yet to prove its potential.

I propose that the nearly 400 Fellows take on the task, never before tried, of building a strong future for Illinois. The challenge could determine if these young politicos are leaders or followers.

Annually over the past decade, Jim Edgar has gathered 40 of our state’s best and brightest in Urbana for an intensive week of policy seminars with top national figures and experts. Maybe even more valuable, there is important after-hours social bonding among young men and women across both parties and all regions of the state.

GSWNH JimNowlan 083019

Jim Nowlan

The Fellows, mostly young legislators or wannabes, feel good about themselves for having been selected, and for rubbing shoulders with biggies, but are they really going to become transformational leaders?

After all, most elected officials are, by the nature of the democratic process, followers not leaders. That is, they have to be elected and re-elected — fail to reflect the often-shortsighted wishes of their constituencies, and they might find themselves out of office.

Indeed, four of our greatest Illinois governors never bothered to serve in the Legislature, and they lasted only one term each — leadership has its costs. Thomas Ford (1842-1846) ensured that the state pay off massive debt; John Peter Altgeld (1893-1897) championed higher education and pardoned, hugely unpopular of him, anarchists who had been railroaded toward the gallows; Frank Lowden (1917-1921) modernized state government, and Richard B. Ogilvie (!969-73) enacted an income tax.

So, are today’s up-and-comers more interested in making careers out of partisan politics, or in making a difference, damn the consequences?

After all, Illinois should be an economic dynamo. As I keep quoting successful friend Jim Schultz of Effingham, in each of the five R’s critical to economic development—rails, roads, runways, rivers and routers—Illinois ranks among the top three American states. We are located right in the middle of the world’s largest market! Yet, Illinois is “the sick man” of Midwestern states, the only one losing population. Shame on our “leaders.”

Our problems are fixable: fiscal instability and debt; an unbalanced revenue system too reliant on the property tax; a national perception for being a corrupt state, and a mediocre K-12 education system.

These challenges won’t be solved in a year or two, yet that is exactly how elected officials approach our problems. Each biennium, Illinois lawmakers introduce 6,000 or so bills; this potpourri of policy ideas becomes in effect the sum total of our state’s long-term thinking

The lawmaker/Fellows can either return to business as usual, that is, to a post-Mike Madigan lawmaking process that appears as polarized, atomized and small-minded as it was before the speaker was dethroned this past year.

Then again, they might create something like an Edgar Fellows Future of Illinois Coalition. The Fellows could hold a plenary gathering each year, break up into task forces, issue nonpartisan action platforms — and provide the leadership to enact them.

Or, the Fellows can be followers, which is much safer politically. The Edgar Fellows need to step up.

Jim Nowlan is a former state legislator and aide to three unindicted Illinois governors. A retired professor of American politics, he writes a newspaper column on Understanding Illinois.

Local News

palos tax appeal flyer for 1-26-22

Palos Township tax appeal workshop on January 26

For 68 years the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce has remained actively involved in the everyday life of the Palos area, residents and business community. (Supplied photo)

Palos Area Chamber dedicated to promoting area

By Kelly White Dedicated to helping local area businesses strive is the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber was formed in 1949 when a small group of merchants joined together for the purpose of advancing economic, industrial, professional, cultural, and civic welfare of the Palos Heights area. For 68 years, the Palos Area Chamber…

Peggy Zabicki

We need real solutions to crime

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Crime and safety concerns are the number one topic of all the calls and texts I receive. It seems that many politicians offer no solutions except the usual lists of ways to keep safe. I think everyone knows about locking their cars…

Mary Stanek

Icy spill yielded plenty of good will

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Here is a giant shout out to our first responders in the community. On Jan. 9, when a sheet of ice descended on Chicago, I was walking the dog. Walking around Peck School was great. Their snow…

Joan Hadac

It’s a busy January in Gage Park

By Joan Hadac Neighborhood correspondent at large Greetings, Gage Parkers! I’m pleased to be filling in this week for Karen Sala. It’s fun for me to report on Gage Park, the neighborhood where I lived for the first 26 years of my life. There’s always something happening in this big, exciting part of Chicago, so…

Kathy Headley

You can bank on good service here

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 In this world of corporate takeovers, it is kind of hard to feel safe in the hands of big business. First, we have to supply some of our personal information to the automated system. Then there’s the seemingly…

Palos Park police will hold an active shooter training session on January 30. (Supplied photo)

Palos Park police to hold active shooter drill

From staff reports Palos Park Police will fine tune their strategies for dealing with an active shooter to ensure the safety of both officers and citizens later this month. The end goal of the January 30 drlll is to test the department’s active shooter response plans and fine tune them. “Palos Park effective preventive measures…

Richards High School Principal Dr. Mike Jacobson and several staff members at the high school, 10601 Central Ave., Oak Lawn, walked for 24 hours on a treadmill to raise money for student scholarships starting bright and early on New Year's Day. (Supplied photos)

Richards’ Principal walks 24 hours for a cause

By Kelly White Most people spend New Year’s Day relaxing. Richards High School Principal Dr. Mike Jacobson spent it on the treadmill. For the second year in a row, Jacobson inspired generous donations of more than $20,000 on New Year’s Day by walking 24 hours on a treadmill without stopping. All of the money raised goes directly to benefit…

Victress Women's Wellness Center, 7120 W. 127th St., Palos Heights, welcomed in the new year with a goal-setting seminar open to women in the local community called, Achieve 2022: This year set goals, not resolutions. (Supplied photos)

Victress Women’s Wellness Center sets goals for 2022

By Kelly White Empowering women in the new year is Victress, a wellness center for women, in Palos Heights. The center opened in October at 7120 W. 127th St. and welcomed in the new year with a goal-setting seminar open to women in the local community called, Achieve 2022: This year set goals, not resolutions.…

Engineer Carl Germann (left) and executive producer Ron Jankowski helped Channel 4 in Palos Heights to a successful 2021. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Broadcast news — Palos Heights’ Channel 4 has big 2021

By Jeff Vorva The first Palos Heights city council meeting of 2022 featured a few minutes of bragging about Channel 4’s success in 2021. The local cable channel had a record-breaking year and Alderman Jerry McGovern was more than happy to run down the happy totals at Tuesday’s board meeting at City Hall. There were…

Neighbors

AladdinsBanquets WebAd
Cook County Sheriff ad.2
palos tax appeal flyer for 1-26-22

Palos Township tax appeal workshop on January 26

For 68 years the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce has remained actively involved in the everyday life of the Palos area, residents and business community. (Supplied photo)

Palos Area Chamber dedicated to promoting area

By Kelly White Dedicated to helping local area businesses strive is the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber was formed in 1949 when a small group of merchants joined together for the purpose of advancing economic, industrial, professional, cultural, and civic welfare of the Palos Heights area. For 68 years, the Palos Area Chamber…

Peggy Zabicki

We need real solutions to crime

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Crime and safety concerns are the number one topic of all the calls and texts I receive. It seems that many politicians offer no solutions except the usual lists of ways to keep safe. I think everyone knows about locking their cars…

Mary Stanek

Icy spill yielded plenty of good will

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Here is a giant shout out to our first responders in the community. On Jan. 9, when a sheet of ice descended on Chicago, I was walking the dog. Walking around Peck School was great. Their snow…

Joan Hadac

It’s a busy January in Gage Park

By Joan Hadac Neighborhood correspondent at large Greetings, Gage Parkers! I’m pleased to be filling in this week for Karen Sala. It’s fun for me to report on Gage Park, the neighborhood where I lived for the first 26 years of my life. There’s always something happening in this big, exciting part of Chicago, so…

Kathy Headley

You can bank on good service here

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 In this world of corporate takeovers, it is kind of hard to feel safe in the hands of big business. First, we have to supply some of our personal information to the automated system. Then there’s the seemingly…

Palos Park police will hold an active shooter training session on January 30. (Supplied photo)

Palos Park police to hold active shooter drill

From staff reports Palos Park Police will fine tune their strategies for dealing with an active shooter to ensure the safety of both officers and citizens later this month. The end goal of the January 30 drlll is to test the department’s active shooter response plans and fine tune them. “Palos Park effective preventive measures…

Richards High School Principal Dr. Mike Jacobson and several staff members at the high school, 10601 Central Ave., Oak Lawn, walked for 24 hours on a treadmill to raise money for student scholarships starting bright and early on New Year's Day. (Supplied photos)

Richards’ Principal walks 24 hours for a cause

By Kelly White Most people spend New Year’s Day relaxing. Richards High School Principal Dr. Mike Jacobson spent it on the treadmill. For the second year in a row, Jacobson inspired generous donations of more than $20,000 on New Year’s Day by walking 24 hours on a treadmill without stopping. All of the money raised goes directly to benefit…

Victress Women's Wellness Center, 7120 W. 127th St., Palos Heights, welcomed in the new year with a goal-setting seminar open to women in the local community called, Achieve 2022: This year set goals, not resolutions. (Supplied photos)

Victress Women’s Wellness Center sets goals for 2022

By Kelly White Empowering women in the new year is Victress, a wellness center for women, in Palos Heights. The center opened in October at 7120 W. 127th St. and welcomed in the new year with a goal-setting seminar open to women in the local community called, Achieve 2022: This year set goals, not resolutions.…

Engineer Carl Germann (left) and executive producer Ron Jankowski helped Channel 4 in Palos Heights to a successful 2021. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Broadcast news — Palos Heights’ Channel 4 has big 2021

By Jeff Vorva The first Palos Heights city council meeting of 2022 featured a few minutes of bragging about Channel 4’s success in 2021. The local cable channel had a record-breaking year and Alderman Jerry McGovern was more than happy to run down the happy totals at Tuesday’s board meeting at City Hall. There were…

DVN Les Brothers Restaurant House Ad
Regional dermatology associates House Ad